Essential List of Soccer Terms: Ultimate Guide for Youth Soccer Clubs

Why is an essential list of soccer terms important? Often considered the most popular sport in the world, soccer is loved by millions around the globe. Sometimes referred to as football, “The Beautiful Game” is a great introduction to the world of sports for youth athletes.

If you’re a first-time soccer player or youth sports parent, a basic understanding of soccer terminology will go a long way in enhancing your knowledge of the sport. Here is a quick guide of essential soccer terms. 

Essential List of Soccer Terms


Official name for a soccer field. 


Rectangular frame located at each end of the pitch. It is formed with a pair of posts standing vertically and one crossbar joining the posts. A net covered the back portion of each goal. 

This is also the main scoring achievement in soccer matches. When the ball crosses the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar, scoring teams earn a point.


Runs the longer sides of the field and represents the pitch vs. out-of-bounds.

Goal Line

Two goal lines connect the two sidelines to form a rectangle. The goals are placed in the middle of each goal line. 


Represented by the four corners of the field, this is the intersection of the goal line and the sidelines. 

Starting 11

Refers to the 11 players (for each team) deemed starters for a specific match.


A player positioned in front of the goal. Their primary responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. 


Players that patrol the area of the field closest to the opponent’s goal. Their primary responsibility is to score goals. 


Players covering the middle portion of the field. They are responsible for transitioning the team from offense to defense and vice versa. 


These players patrol the area of the field closest to their own goals. They are responsible for preventing the other team from scoring goals. 


Using your feet, a move from one player to another player on your team. 


Controlling the ball while running on the field. 


The act of taking the ball away from an opponent. 


Done in both passing and shooting mechanisms, striking the ball with your forehead in a specific direction. 


Statistic that’s awarded to a player for setting up a pass/play for a teammate who then scores a goal. 


A move when goalkeepers prevent the opposing team from scoring on a shot. 

Free Kick

Awarded to a team when they are penalized (an illegal action) by the opposing team. Used as a method for restarting play. 

Corner Kick

Awarded to a team when the opposing team knocks the ball out-of-bounds on their own goal line (without scoring a goal). A player takes a kick from the corner of the field to restart play. 

Penalty Kick

Awarded to a player when the opposing team commits an illegal action in the penalty area in front of their own goal, a rectangular box surrounding the goals. The offensive team is awarded a kick towards the goal, in a 1-on-1 situation against the goalie from the penalty spot (a circle in the center of the penalty area in front of the goal). 


A rule preventing offensive players from positioning themselves behind all defenders before the ball is passed to them. 

Yellow Card

One of two disciplinary actions available for the referee. This is for a player being “cautioned” by the referee for illegal actions on the field. 

Red Card

The more severe disciplinary action available to the referee. Players shown a red card are not allowed to play the remainder of the game and the team is not allowed to substitute a player for them. 


Although a penalty has occurred, referees are allowed to let the team that has just been fouled continue their offensive motion if stopping play would be non-beneficial to this specific momentum. 

Slide Tackle

A defensive action where a player slides on the ground and knocks the ball free from the opposing team, while in control. This play can often turn into penalties if the defensive player makes physical contact with the player before hitting the ball. 


To pass and control the ball between an opponent’s legs. 


A defensive strategy in which the defensive team adds heightened pressure to an opposing offense, attempting to regain control of the ball in less time. 

Counter Attack

An offensive strategy in which a team that just recovered possession quickly advances up the pitch. This is done immediately during the transition from defense to offense and attempts to take advantage of open field space left by opposing teams. 

First Touch

A skill in which players are able to immediately get the ball under control after their initial contact.


A two-player maneuver in which the one player with the ball passes to a teammate and immediately repositions themselves in order to receive a return pass in a better position to advance or score. 

Now that you’re geared up with a great starting list of essential soccer terms, hit the pitch with a full understanding of this beautiful game. 


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